By Liam Benedict
The United States will be withdrawing from the Paris Agreement. This is a shocking realization for most Americans, but the truth is that President Donald Trump officially filed the paperwork to leave the Paris Accords back on Nov. 4, 2019.
It takes one year from filing for the change to go through, meaning that in only a few days, the move will be official. The fact that it falls the day after the election is a momentous coincidence, and possibly a very relevant one.
With the election of President Trump soon after, this was all ultimately for naught. The following year after the U.S. joined the agreement: Jun. 1, 2017, Trump announced that the United States would be pulling out of the accords, claiming the accords were unfair and damaging to our economy. President Trump had to wait several years to fulfill his promise, but he ultimately did go through with it.
President Trump has noticeably harmed the climate over the years, especially by damaging the Paris Accords even while the United States participated. The effects of his actions have been disastrous for the climate. Despite this, the exact nature of the United State’s relationship with the Accords may be changed in the near future.
The Paris Accords were created in 2015 during the United Nations Framework Convention on climate change.
Nearly 189 countries by the current year have agreed to participate in the agreement, where each country had to choose to lower their carbon emissions to a certain percentage by a certain year. They report their carbon emissions data to the UN, and are also encouraged to donate to a climate change fund.
The ultimate goal of the agreement is to keep global warming from rising more than two degrees Celsius. The U.S. specifically pledged that it would reduce emissions from 26 percent to 28 percent by 2025.
With almost every nation on the globe in this agreement, the accords used to be an inspiring show of unity and determination to change the world. And even though the United States is the second biggest CO2 producer in the world, we ended up settling on that modest goal and a modest contribution to the climate fund under Obama. While some people may have argued that this wasn’t drastic enough, it was still a step in the right direction.
Trump, however, felt that these goals were unreasonable.
Yet, pulling out of the accords was a hasty, damaging and entirely unnecessary move. Like many aspects of the Trump Administration, this move was done simply to appease his most radical followers instead of focusing on what was good for the whole country. As per the rules of the Accords, the U.S., “could have simply changed them, rather than withdraw from the Paris accord altogether,” reports ABC News.
Not only this, but Trump has also fought against the Accords and undermined them during the few years he had been forced to stay in them.
For instance, Trump has refused to pay into the Green Climate Fund, which was set up to help developing countries go green.
Instead, he chose to focus on his “America First” policies. He also made the unfounded claim that the fund was a scheme to redistribute wealth from richer countries to poorer countries.
The Washington Post reported how the Trump Administration has “teamed up with oil and gas-rich Russia and Saudi Arabia to water down language about the urgency of climate change during international negotiations.”
Another expected, yet insidious effect of Trump’s blatant disregard for the accords is that it “has given license to some other countries to slow their own promises to more rapidly cut their emissions.” UC Davis’s very own Frances Moore, assistant professor in the department of environmental science and policy, says that Trump being elected would be the beginning of the end for the Paris Accords.
ABC News quoted her saying, “It’s unlikely, I think, that the Paris Agreement forum could survive as a serious international agreement that’s really motivating countries to do things that they otherwise wouldn’t be doing if Trump were re-elected.”
Moore is entirely correct here. “The US is the second-biggest CO2 emitter in the world, behind China,” reports Green Matters.com. While I actually agree with Trump that China and India need to be held to a much, much higher standard, that is not an excuse for the U.S. to do nothing.
The U.S.’s future with the Paris Accords is unclear. After all, Joe Biden has said that if he wins, he will rejoin the accords on day one; a process that could be fulfilled in only six months. Not only this, but he also plans on implementing his own major environmental plan costing trillions of dollars, making it clear that this is not a half-hearted effort on his part.
It’s also worth noting that Biden’s environmental plan, if fully implemented, could create 10 million clean energy jobs. A reminder that Trump said the Paris Accords would lead to the loss of 2 million jobs in America. It is obvious that Biden’s plan is the way forward for our country and the world; the only plan that can make America a leader in climate change solutions as it once was.
Ultimately, those who vote this election will not only be voting for the president but perhaps for the fate of the environment as well. As we wait for all the votes to be counted, the stakes could not be higher.
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